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In the summer of 2013, our team of 14–18 year olds won the Vineyard Race, a 238-mile
In the summer of 2016, when I just turned 18, I fulfilled my dream of not only compet- ing in the biennial Newport to Bermuda Race, but also crossing the finish line first with one of the youngest crews to ever compete in the race. I was a watch captain aboard High Noon, for the 635-mile sailing competition across the Gulf Stream and down the Atlan- tic coast. Our team consisted of seven youth sailors, 18 and under, and three adults. Tra-
ditionally, the race is only for the most experienced sailors and professional teams. In the 100-year
history of the race, few crews as young as ours have coordinated and captained their own boat.
In 2013, my sailing mentor, Peter Becker, of Rye, NY, took the reins of the American Yacht
Club Junior Racing Team. From the outset, Peter’s goal was to create a team of highly-skilled
junior sailors, capable of competing against the most experienced adult teams. We became
more than just a junior club sailing team, racing only other junior club teams. We wanted
to compete in all the top races. We entered as many day races and distance races as possible,
against sailors of every age. Peter always joked that all our races were practice for The Big One:
the Newport to Bermuda Race. I knew he was serious.
race from Stamford, Connecticut, around the Buzzards Bay Tower at the southern tip of Cape
Cod, and back, a victory that had never before been accomplished by a youth team. I love to
sail, and our successes summer after summer only deepened my commitment to our youth
team. Peter knew what our young team was capable of and had us all dreaming of racing to
Bermuda. In 2016, we made it happen.
A RACE TO
BY WILLIAM McKEIGE
How I skipped high
school graduation to
sail in the Newport
to Bermuda sailing
race and crossed the
finish line first.